How to Repair a Brick & Electric Kiln

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Anyone is capable of doing simple repairs on a brick and electric kiln. Kilns have two main parts that need repairs. The elements can burn out in the kiln, or the walls or floor of the kiln gets damaged. The elements are the heating coils that run through small openings in the kiln bricks. The floor or walls of the kiln can be damaged when pots explode because of air bubbles and moisture. Dents or chips in the walls and floor can be made when a shelf or stilt accidentally hits the sides or bottom as a person loads the kiln. Repairing these problems is not complicated, but plan a few hours for each repair, and wait at least 48 hours before firing after the repair.

Things You'll Need

  • Orton Kiln Cement
  • Disposable cup
  • Paint brush
  • Sponge
  • 2-inch by 2-inch piece of cardboard
  • Scrap paper
  • Element for your kiln
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wire snips
  • Connector crimper
  • Wire stripper
  • Masking tape
  • Marker
  • Vacuum

Repairing Wall or Floor Brick

  • Decide if the repair is essential. If a wall or floor brick has a chip that is less than one inch deep, don't worry about repairing it. It won't cause any problems with firing.

  • Shake the kiln cement container for a few minutes and then open the container. Fill a disposable cup halfway with kiln cement. Paint the kiln cement into the chipped area filling it to the top of the chipped area. The cement is thick and creamy, so it will hold in place on the sides, lid or bottom of the kiln. If the broken area is in the area around the element's groove, fill it in carefully, so the cement doesn't get on the element. You may want to slide a piece of paper between the element and repair area to keep the cement from dripping onto the element. If the paper won't come loose after you are finished the repair, don't worry. It will burn off the first time the kiln is fired.

  • Cement broken pieces of brick together. If the brick inside the kiln has broken into pieces, use the kiln cement like glue. Put thin layers of kiln cement between the pieces of brick and fit them back together. Let the cement dry for 24 hours. Once it's dry, fill in any gaps or chips.

Replacing an Element

  • Unplug the kiln. Remove the screws on the control box, and open the control box. The control box is the silver box on the outside of the kiln that controls the heat in the kiln.

  • Number all of the wires using tape and a marker. Start at the top with #1 and continue until all of the wires are labeled in order. Find the barrel connector that crimps the wires together, and cut the feeder wires loose on the side closest to the element pigtail. The wires coming from the control box are the feeder wires. The pigtail is the part where all the wires hook together. Cut right beside the crimped barrel connector.

  • Use the needle nose pliers to remove the small metal pins that hold the coiled wire in the grooves around the kiln. The coiled wire is the element. Slide the element out of the kiln, and pull the pigtail out of the control box through the hole in the brick. Set it out of the way.

  • Vacuum the kiln. Slide the new element into place, and push the metal pins that come with the element into the kiln at a 45-degree angle, holding the element in place. The element is bent to fit the kiln, so there is no way you can install it incorrectly. Push the pigtail through the control box opening. As the pigtail goes through the hole in the control box opening, pull it tight, making sure the heat seal closes the opening like a cork on a bottle.

  • Strip off a half inch of coating off of the wires on the pigtail wires and the feeder wires. Slide a barrel connector over the exposed end of wire #1 and feeder wire #1. Crimp the wire with the crimping tool. Attach each wire to the corresponding feeder wire, and crimp. Close the control box, and replace the screws. The kiln is ready for use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check your kiln manual for the correct replacement elements. Every brand and model of kiln has a different type of element. If you purchase the wrong one, it will not fit.

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References

  • Photo Credit pottery image by Avesun from Fotolia.com
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